Perpich News

Dr. Stephanie Lein Walseth and Theater Educators Present “A Breath for George” at National Conference

George Floyd Mural Memorial Photo Credit: Regina Marie Williams

July 26, 2021

On Friday, July 23, 2021, Dr. Stephanie Lein Walseth, Education Specialist in Theater, and a group of theater educators presented a panel session at the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) National Virtual Conference. Lein Walseth and Austene Van, LaTwanna Williams, Eliza Rasheed, and Lori Constable presented “Contextualizing Theater for Racial Justice: A Breath for George.

“After a year of working in partnership with New Dawn Theatre to introduce Minnesota arts educators to A Breath for George, we were thrilled to elevate this powerful film to a national platform,” said Lein Walseth. “Not only did we create and share a contextual curriculum to accompany the film, but within the working group and the conference session we practiced ways of mindfully centering BIPOC (black, indigenous, and other people of color) women’s voices. We’re looking forward to continuing this work to advance Perpich’s Professional Development goals of anti-racism and social justice, transforming arts education through digital practices, and breaking down teacher isolation.”

A Breath for George was crafted from individually recorded performances of monologues, songs, poems, movement, and interviews by local black and people of color/indigenous artists and scholars, and then woven together and projected onto the exterior of theater buildings across the Twin Cities. The film honors the life and death of George Floyd, those who have fallen before him, and those who continue to fall due to police brutality and systemic racism. During the session, participants viewed a short excerpt of A Breath for George followed by a dialogue session that engaged participants in thinking through the process of creating theater for racial justice and for building curriculum to help middle and high school students contextualize the work.

One participant, Dr. Charles Adams, University of Minnesota, shared, “One of the things I liked best about this session was that the panelists obviously cared about A Breath for George and were honest about the impact it made/makes on them. It was a challenge to make and share, and one vital for the community, and I’m so thankful for that.”

The AATE 2021 National Conference examined local, regional, and national Landmarks and Monuments. They described Landmarks as discoveries or changes that mark important turning points and Monuments as outstanding, enduring, or memorable events. They challenged presenters and participants to consider this question: At this moment, as an artist, educator, scholar, and/or activist, what are the landmarks and monuments in your work?

The American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE), among the most recognized arts education organizations, works to ensure that every young person experiences quality theatre arts in their lives provided by proficient, talented artists and educators. AATE is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Through its membership of theatre artists, in-service and pre-service teachers, professors, directors, scholars, and playwrights, AATE serves more than a million students in 48 U.S. states and 19 countries worldwide.

Stephanie Lein Walseth

Stephanie Lein Walseth, Ph.D. is a theater educator, artist, administrator, and scholar with over 15 years experience working with students and artists of all ages. She is a founding core artistic group member of Full Circle Theater Company, and she has served tenures with Penumbra Theatre Company, Mu Performing Arts, Mixed Blood Theatre, and Sod House Theater, among many other professional companies in Minnesota and across the country. Stephanie received her Ph.D. in Theatre Historiography from the University of Minnesota, and her research focuses on theaters of color and issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. She has served as an instructor and curriculum developer at Augsburg University, the University of Minnesota, and Penumbra. Her writing has appeared in HowlRound, Theatre Topics, e-misférica, The Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance, and a brand new anthology from Palgrave Macmillan entitled Theater, Performance and Change.

New Dawn Theatre Company draws brilliance out of shadows by illuminating and supporting cutting edge works of overlooked, under-represented communities of our theatrical landscape through innovative, exciting, and excellent theater productions.